I used to be one of those people who loved the holidays. I loved the smell of spiced cakes, breads, and cookies baking in my oven. I loved the feeling of planning and making a giant meal on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, I loved walking home on dark evenings and seeing holiday lights and decorations in people's homes (and knowing that I lived in one of the best cities at holiday time). But somehow it has changed and become a time of major stress. Are you guys stressing out about the holidays as much as I am? The gift guides appearing on some of the blogs and in magazines are gorgeous and do inspire me, (like, I should be thanking EZ at Creature Comforts on bended knee for her insanely beautiful and useful holiday gift guide) but at the same time I feel overwhelmed and pressured into buying gifts too early. And the whole time I feel guilty for dreading a season that everyone appears to love (but perhaps some of you secretly agree with me?)
How can I rediscover my holiday spirit, or is it gone forever?
Head to Little Brown Pen to enter to win a gorgeous selection of the best books from Nichole's publisher, Chronicle. I own quite a few of these already (Anne Willan's Country Cooking of France is one I turn to frequently in my kitchen) but I'd love to give most of these as gifts.
Victoria of SF Girl By Bay is giving away her own curated stack of Chronicle books too. Head here to enter to win her favorites. Also, you'll get a 30% discount on the Chronicle website by entering discount code "givebooks" when you check out.
These tips from The Kitchn on preparing elements of dishes (like gravy or pie crust) ahead of time and freezing may help destress me during the holidays.
I am a fan of trying something other than turkey for our Thanksgiving meal and this year I have decided to do roast beef. I hadn't chosen a specific recipe yet, but now I have an entire menu, thanks to Mimi at Manger. I'm drooling over her recipes for roast beef with red wine gravy, yorkshire pudding, and roast thyme potatoes.
Now that I've had success with one of the recipes from Smitten's book (the pumpkin gingersnap tart), I'm eager to move on to the next. Todd and Diane at White on Rice may have found it for me: coffee toffee with hazelnut topping. Yum.
And last, win a super cool tasting box from online shop Eat Boutique on The Vanilla Bean Blog. It would make a marvelous holiday gift for the food lover on your list.